MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around   2022
 57,903 reviews
   and more ... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here
Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount


Support us financially by purchasing this from

Anton RUBINSTEIN (1829-1894)
Piano Quartet in F major, Op.55bis, after the Quintet for piano and winds, Op.55 (c.1855, rev. 1860) [37:11]
Piano Quartet in C major, Op.66 (1864) [39:15]
Leslie Howard (piano)
Rita Manning (violin); Morgan Goff (viola); Justin Pearson (cello)
rec. May 2013, Potton Hall, Suffolk
HYPERION CDA68018 [76:28]

Not long ago I reviewed an old Melodiya recording of Anton Rubinstein’s Quintet for piano, flute, clarinet, horn and bassoon, Op.55. Here it is again though the title Piano Quartet and opus number Op.55bis will give you the clue that this is the version for piano and strings. To my considerable surprise this is apparently making its first ever appearance on disc. So too, it seems, is the companion work, the Piano Quartet in C major, Op.66. Clearly there are many more battles to be won if Rubinstein’s chamber music is to take root.

Published in 1860 as a wind quintet, the guise for piano and strings reduces the personnel by a factor of one. Whilst we know that the composer performed in the Wind Quintet version there is no evidence that he did so in this string version. The piano is, in any case, primus inter pares in the work. The rich lyric theme parcelled out to the cello is finely played and reminds us that whilst Rubinstein was indebted to Mendelssohn his own scherzos tend to be more muscular affairs and less deft. The slow movement is full of harmonic interest, the piano often to the fore with rippling arpeggios or fiery opulence. The airy and confident swing of the finale owes a bit to Schumannesque drama but it’s played with dash and brio by members of the Locrian Ensemble with Liszt-maestro Leslie Howard the commanding presence at the keyboard.

Composed in 1864 and published two years later the Piano Quartet in C major is indeed ‘urbane and agreeable’. It was very popular at the time and one hear why. Quite why it has disappeared so comprehensively from the repertoire is perhaps less easy to say, but it’s hardly alone in that respect, and Rubinstein has never been much more than a fringe composer. The dainty second subject of the first movement shows what a subtle ensemble can do with it – plenty is what, with this ensemble – and as Rubinstein is quiet elastic with his material there are many opportunities for all the players to stretch out in solo discourse both solemn and more engaged. The slow movement opens with gaunt piano statements, the strings responding in kind to this intensity, and a contrasting songfulness later floods the music led by the strings, the piano decorating around. For a previously unrecorded work this movement alone offers a rich strata of expressive depth. Jump to: the finale opens with ebullience and self-confidence, elements of folklore and even Brahms seeming to coalesce. Rubinstein is not without humour either, as this finale shows.

The performances are splendid – sensitive, energised, and with fine ensemble, duly caught by Hyperion’s engineers at Potton Hall. And the music certainly doesn’t deserve its neglect when advocacy such as this reveals such depths.

Jonathan Woolf